Blairgowrie Golf Club has teed-up a £550,000 VAT windfall after a landmark legal victory, with other clubs set to benefit.
Private member clubs, including the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup venue, have been waiting for HMRC rebate cheques since the tax authorities lost a court test case over historic VAT charged on visitor fees dating back to the mid-nineties.
However, while welcoming the six-figure boost to the Perthshire club’s coffers in advance of their December AGM, Blairgowrie’s managing secretary Douglas Cleeton has warned rebates can’t be allowed to solve the problems a club may be having.
“It’s a wonderful and significant windfall for us and we will be considering carefully how it will be invested,” he said. “We won’t be the biggest beneficiaries in Scotland, not by a long way. At the top end of the market, there are clubs with exceptionally big visitor numbers. The vast majority, of course, will be getting a windfall which is much more modest.
“For many clubs, it may take the immediate pressure off and dig some clubs out of a hole for a year or two. But no one can afford to think a rebate will be a quick fix solution to problems.”
Kevin Fish, Club Services Manager for Scottish Golf, said: “The long-awaited conclusion of these various VAT legal challenges is a most welcome boost for many Scottish clubs who have been temporarily out of pocket.
“But such a windfall should not distract club committees from the responsibility they have to ensure that they continue to offer a product, a service and an experience that appeals to the modern golfer.
“We would point out, however, that you don’t have to have received a large windfall to make significant improvements in the experience you provide golfers. Scottish Golf continues to provide education and face-to-face support to hundreds of club managers to help their golf clubs to thrive in these challenging economic times.”